The United States of America carries a deep wound that you and I have the opportunity to heal. This wound can be summarized in one word: slavery. Psychologists like Carl Rogers have understood that individuals cannot attain mental health until their actual self is aligned with their ideal self. The same is true of nations. From its inception, our nation has had a huge rift between its ideal self (“all men are created equal”) and its actual self (a nation built by slaves).
Thomas Jefferson was the ultimate embodiment of this paradox. At the time he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he owned more than 100 slaves. Although unwilling to support the abolition of slavery or even to free his own slaves, Jefferson realized the potential ramifications of this practice: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just (and) that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
Whether we call it divine justice or karma, the ripple effects of slavery continue to be felt not just in the U.S. but throughout the entire world. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1868 abolished slavery but also opened the door for corporations to be granted the same rights of personhood as former slaves.
Like the slave owners of old, modern corporations have put profit ahead of human welfare. But the form of slavery practiced by corporate giants has a far broader reach, extending to every nation and to every living being on this planet. Corporations are privatizing everything that sustains life on Earth, including land, air, water, food, and all other natural resources. And just like slave owners, corporations have no burden of responsibility to their property—only to their profits.
The wound that slavery has produced may in fact be lethal. But we still have time to heal this wound. First, we can free ourselves from corporate slavery. This means finding ways to feed, clothe and house ourselves that do not rely on corporations. Not only is it possible to withdraw our energy from an economic system that is destroying life on our planet; it is our sacred duty. The second task, which is equally important, is to offer blessings to all concerned: slave owner and slave, exploiter and exploited, rich and poor. We are all in this together, which is why forgiveness is so crucial. Yes, we can offer forgiveness to those who enslave, but we can also ask for forgiveness for our part in the enslavement process.